Most times, when folks think about potential challenges such as an earthquake or a car breaking down in the middle of nowhere, they omit considering one of their greatest assets in dealing with such a scenario—their own physical strength. Personally, I believe that my biggest challenge in becoming more self-reliant is to be focused on what physical components of preparedness I will need in the future and be willing to pay the price for those today. That price may be in the form of daily exercise, eating right, learning how to ensure my physical surrounding is protected, and even educating my body to instinctively perform some life-saving actions. I realize it’s much easier to “check off” some of the other aspects of self-reliance, whereas, like the first two principles of Spiritual and Mental Preparedness, Physical Preparedness doesn’t have a destination, per se, rather it’s a constant consideration. I’m sad to say that it took me a while to realize, though, how I had foolishly disconnected from this important principle.
Twelve years ago, as I was caused to wonder how I would protect myself under a specific set of realistic circumstances, I discovered that I was far too vulnerable. As such, in the name of Physical Preparedness, I elected to learn what I needed to so that I wouldn’t compromise the physical safety of myself, nor of those that I cared for. Still, not one to learn quite as fast as I should, when I avoided a near miss on the freeway 4 years ago, and woke up to the realization that I came “this close” to hoofing it 86 miles to the nearest sign of civilization in the middle of a brutal snow storm, I realized that I had taken this whole Physical Preparedness thing much too lightly. Thinking that I had finally learned this lesson, I was a bit taken aback on a January morning two years ago as I noticed the parade of prescription medicines on my nightstand. It was almost surreal as I recognized that my nightstand had come to look just like my mother’s, who died in her early fifties. I realized that my passive behavior in ensuring my health and fitness had slowly enslaved me to a situation that was incongruent with self-reliance. After all of this though, I think the true wake up call was when my husband and I were having a particularly emotionally charged discussion. I realized in the course of that discussion that my physical vulnerabilities were the cause of distraction and concern to him, and I knew that if he was distracted, then in the midst of a more serious scenario, I would be robbing others of the help that he could give them just because I hadn’t taken responsibility for my own Physical Preparedness. If you’ll keep this aspect of preparedness in its proper prioritization, then you’ll see it color how you approach other aspects of preparedness. For example, let’s take the matter of physical energy. The most important thing to conserve during a crisis is your own physical energy. That being the case, then having your water preparedness efforts be isolated to “planning” on using the water from a lake that’s “only a 10 minute walk from your home" may not be the smartest idea. For one, you’re assuming that the outside waters can be protected from a mass spread of bacteria, nuclear waste, or contagious diseases that may evolve to being spread by birds and other animals. Additionally, have you ever tried to carry the constantly moving weight of water “only 10 minutes away” to your home—assuming that you’ll actually have paved roads making the trek easier? There’s the common matter of using a hand-grinder for wheat, etc. I always ask folks to consider how much physical energy it requires with their particular hand-grinder to crank out enough flour for a bread recipe. Most persons don’t even consider this when selecting a hand-grinder, rather they simply look for the cheapest price, buy it, and then check that off from their list. Now let’s take the matter of physical intuition. Most folks don’t think twice about training their body to respond to stressful situations in a particular manner and yet, if we were to speak to any military personnel who has had to endure high stress shooting circumstances, we will inevitably get an earful on the importance of deliberate breathing in such a time. I can tell you from experience, the primary reason why folks miss their target when shooting is because they instinctively stop breathing and tighten all of their muscles; but the opposite habits can be learned. To this day, I can’t even take on the “stress” of a friendly game of Taboo or any timed word game without requiring myself to purposefully breathe in order to have all of my competitive faculties with me. There’s also instinctive shooting and muscle memory to consider which only gets developed with physical practice. Many years ago my husband was hit by another car while riding his motorcycle. While he had the sense to wear a helmet, it did him no good in this scenario; rather it was his purposefully trained way of “falling” that saved him from any serious physical energy. He had trained himself to roll his body deliberately in such circumstances, thus spreading out the force of landing in such a way that the body can tolerate it. Again, this comes with practice and a conscious effort. Some instances of Physical Preparedness will require endurance or brute strength that will not be present if we don’t pay the price to obtain them now. Several years ago there were no viable tools available to my husband when he was first on a scene of a car accident and had to physically punch his way through a car window in order to help one of those involved in the crash. Guess those eons of martial arts have paid off for him several times. In my “Feminine Fortress” classes, I teach women that they need to at least practice beating the heck out of a punching bag, cushion, or pillow for a solid 5 minutes in order to have confidence that they will be able to fight long and hard enough should they ever find themselves under assault. Most people though, do not have such stamina. Along these same lines, many years ago I was studying with several other females under the guidance of a big, imposing Marine soldier who specialized in teaching grappling. Our assignment was to use one seemingly simple item from our everyday life as a weapon of “opportunity” and defend ourselves against this “Big Lug” with it. Each of the women took their turn trying to use a “weapon of opportunity” as they had been instructed the previous week. But none of them actually used anything around them. Instead they just tried to physically fight their way out of the firm grasp of our instructor. Frankly, it was a bit tough to see that all the women were a bit shaken to see that they failed the assignment. While I have to admit that actually grappling with a 6’2”, 240 pound male Marine on the floor was intimidating—certainly something I had never conceived of—I was relieved that I DID pass this exercise—5’2 1.5 inches of me along with 200+ pounds of flab. Why? Well two reasons actually. 1) He had allowed his previous experience with the women, in my class and others, program his expectation that no one would use anything other than their own strength to combat him. 2) I had actually practiced using my keys during the week for this very purpose. (Now you know why I and my husband get bruises occasionally. We don’t beat each other—I promise. I just practice with him. *grin*) These are all considerations which fall under the Principle of Physical Preparedness. You see, eating healthy, exercising, learning how to physically defend yourself, keeping a spare pair of tennis shoes in the car, etc. isn’t just about today’s preparedness. If you find yourself disabled in any way physically today—whether that is a wheel-chair, a glitch in your git-a-long, or what have you, then you MUST be sure to come up with a counter move to the physical demands that tougher times will have on you. If you’ve never pulled weeds or worked a hoe a day in your life, then you darn well better be sure you have sturdy gloves and quality tools in the event that you have to do more to provide food for your family. If you’ve never stood watch of any kind for 12 hours, then hey, you may want to offer to be the parent who waits up for that teenager to come home. Bottom line: I believe that it’s good to push ourselves now—in the midst of the modern technologies of air-conditioning, filtered water, paved streets and exercise equipment—so that we don’t suffer later. Being mindful of the various ways of being better physically prepared has everything to do with what we are ABLE to do tomorrow—and it’s actually a lot MORE important of a price to pay for today than any of the supplies of food and such that we get in the name of self-reliance.
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